Drivetrain: A new turbocharged three-cylinder engine and both manual and automated manual transmissions do wonders for the Smart’s competency and character.
Being cute and passing the pumps only gets you so far, based on the Smart’s sluggish sales over the past few years. But the Fortwo now has more to offer, not the least of which is an actual fun-to-drive factor. For starters, two adults can now more comfortably coexist, thanks to a nearly four-inch increase in width (overall length remains unchanged at 8.75 feet). The dashboard has shed its previous plastic appearance and is now covered with a nylon weave that classes things up (this is made by Mercedes-Benz, after all). The previous 70-horsepower 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine has been replaced by a turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder that sends 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. Mercedes-Benz claims that the Smart can reach 60 mph from rest in just over 10 seconds, or about three seconds quicker than before (quite acceptable for this city-focused micro machine). The powerplant connects to a new five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed paddle-shift automated manual. A major Smart advantage is its tight 22.8-foot turning circle, which is a six-foot reduction over the previous model. The Fortwo also benefits from a four-inch gain between the left and right wheels (called the track) for greater stability and more shoulder room. There’s also “Crosswind Assist” that kicks in at speeds above 50 mph and uses light braking force to keep the car on its intended path in gusty conditions. The base Smart “Pure” trim level comes with climate control, an audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, and eight airbags. The remaining Passion, Prime and Proxy trims add all manner of content such as a fixed panorama glass roof, heated leather seats, rear park assist and up-level JBL-brand sound system. You can also equip your Smart with Forward Collision Warning, 16-inch wheels (15-inchers are standard) and a Sport Package with a lowered ride height and blacked-out wheels and trim.
Base price (incl. destination): $15,400
Type: Two-door hatchback
Base engine (hp): 0.9-liter DOHC I3, turbocharged (89)
Layout: Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Five-speed manual; six-speed automated manual
MPG (city/highway): 33/39 (AT)
Weight (lb.): 1,805